Temporary manager sticks up for striker.
West Bromwich Albion caretaker manager Keith Downing has defender striker Nicolas Anelka after the Frenchman was criticised for performing a controversial goal celebration during Saturday’s 3-3 draw with West Ham United, the Daily Mirror reports.
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After the former French international striker equalised against the Hammers on Saturday he wheeled away with his right arm extended and his left hand on his right shoulder – mimicking a controversial gesture known as the quenelle.
The word means elongated creamed fish dumpling, and the celebration has stoked some serious controversy back in France after being used by famed inflammatory comedian Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala in 2005.
However, despite its less that pleasant connotations Downing has insisted that its use was purely innocent.
“I’m aware of it but it has got nothing to do what is being said,” Downing replied when asked about the gesture.
“It is dedicated to a French comedian he knows very, very well. He uses it in his act and I think speculation can be stopped now, it is absolute rubbish really.
“He is totally unaware of what the problems were or the speculation that has been thrown around, he is totally surprised by it.”
Anelka was on target for a brace in the 3-3 draw and Downing praised Anelka for finding the back of the net once again after going so long without doing so.
“I thought he had a good game,” Downing added. “He combined with [Saido] Berahino really well. He has the quality to drop in and link the play and controls the game from that area.
“He got on the shoulder for his first goal and then a typical poacher’s goal from the corner.
“It has been a while since he has played but his dedication and attitude has always been spot on. He is prepared to play and wants to play.”
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